Author Topic: Now Reading, pt 2  (Read 15886 times)

mgriffin

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #100 on: October 16, 2013, 02:05:02 PM »
Thanks for the info about The Circle -- that's one I'm interested in checking out.

I've read so much great stuff lately. I need to write up a few brief reviews and recommendations.
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

chris23

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #101 on: November 06, 2013, 08:01:35 PM »
Margaret Atwood - Oryx and Crake
Fiction. Oryx and Crake is a story about Snowman--one of the last surviving humans in a post-apocalyptic age. The story opens with him going on an adventure in which we learn about, through Snowman's recollections, the series of events that led to the sudden demise of humanity. I was hoping to enjoy this more, having liked The Handmaid's Tale a lot when I read it in college. The book has some truly great moments, but the motivations behind the characters are not well developed.

chris23

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #102 on: December 05, 2013, 09:10:12 PM »
David Baldacci - Absolute Power
A solid, fast-paced thriller. My wife told me there was a movie for this one; I'll have to check it out now. The basic gist is that, while robbing a house, a thief becomes an unintentional witnesses a murder. Like a lot of Baldacci's work, what makes this clever is that there is no "mystery" or "who done it" per se. The story begins with an extraordinary situation and the "thrill" is how that situation unfolds.

Philip K. Dick - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Yup, I'm over 40 years old and hadn't read this until recently. I don't know if this would be considered heresy around here with the on-going Vangelis ‎discussion, but I liked the book better than the Blade Runner movie.

chris23

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #103 on: December 24, 2013, 07:25:55 AM »
Jonathan Safran Foer - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
A story about a young boy, Oskar Schell, who is coping with the loss of his father. He discovers a key in his father's belongings, along with the simple word "Black", and undertakes a quest to visit every Black in the NYC phone book to see if they know anything about the key or what it might unlock. This book has super interesting characters, some great one-liners, and is charming in all the right ways.

mgriffin

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #104 on: December 24, 2013, 10:44:11 AM »
I recently finished The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, and I'm most of the way through the second book in the series, A Wise Man's Fear. These are part of the Kingkiller Chronicles, a fantasy trilogy you've probably heard of if you're interested in the genre. Rothfuss has been referred to as a young George R.R. Martin. I'm not sure that comparison is apt, in that Rothfuss's writing has a very different tone than Martin's, but it makes sense in that Rothfuss's stories, like Martin's, stand apart from the cookie-cutter similarity of so much epic fantasy.

These follow the story of the multi-talented Kvothe, who would seem capable of succeeding at anything he attempted, except that his own ego and stubbornness often cause him trouble, from childhood to the university and into the world. At the beginning of the story, Kvothe has been discovered living in hiding under a different name by a scribe who wishes to write down his true story. Kvothe tells the tale in his own voice, and this comprises most of the novels, with brief interludes back in the tavern where Kvothe is posing as proprietor. It's interesting to keep revisiting the present, getting perspective on what Kvothe has been through and how it ended up for him in the present.

I'd recommend these books for anyone interested in sensitive and well-written fantasy with more emphasis on academia, books and storytelling than combat and war. Five years passed between the first book and the second, so we're not likely to see the third book until 2015 or 2016.
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

mgriffin

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #105 on: January 07, 2014, 05:28:52 PM »
Here's a link to my 10 favorite books of 2013.

http://griffinwords.com/2013/12/30/10-notable-reads-of-2013/
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

thirdsystem

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #106 on: January 20, 2014, 03:20:31 PM »


Half way through this...........Terry Pratchet/Stephen Baxter - The Long Earth.

Interesting tale about parallel Earths.

Dave Michuda

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #107 on: January 20, 2014, 07:32:42 PM »
Mike,

I just re-started "A Wise Man's Fear."  I can't remember why I put it down, maybe something new came out that caught my interest.  But I'm back into it now & am looking forward to finishing it off.  I really enjoyed the first in the series.  I'm not usually a fan of the fantasy genre but these books are excellent.

Other recent books...

"Something More Than Night" by Ian Tregillis  -  I absolutely loved Tregillis' "Milkweed Triptych" about Nazi supermen & British warlocks.  Yes, I know that sound ridiculous, but it works.  Definitely one of my favorite set of books in the ten years.  His new one is "Something More Than Night" & it's a bit hard to describe.  According to the Amazon description it's "a Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler inspired murder mystery set in Thomas Aquinas’s vision of Heaven. It’s a noir detective story starring fallen angels, the heavenly choir, nightclub stigmatics, a priest with a dirty secret, a femme fatale, and the Voice of God."  Very bizarre premise and setting that actually works.

"The Human Division (Old Man's War)" by John Scalzi  -  I'm very happy to have new stories set in the universe of Old Man's War even if this book is a bit unfocused.  It started out as a 13 part online serial then was put together with a new coda as this book.  I still enjoyed it even though the stories jump around a bit.  Scalzi's writing is very readable & you can crank through the material quickly and it's a lot of fun along the way.

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu  -  A normal, everyday programmer wakes up with a voice in his head.  That voice is actually an alien life form that resides in human hosts.  The programmer gets drawn into a war being fought by factions of the alien race here on earth.  I liked this well enough & enjoyed the concept but I'm not sure yet whether I'll continue with the next books that are sure to come.

mgriffin

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #108 on: January 21, 2014, 02:34:09 PM »
Mike,

I just re-started "A Wise Man's Fear."  I can't remember why I put it down, maybe something new came out that caught my interest.  But I'm back into it now & am looking forward to finishing it off.  I really enjoyed the first in the series.  I'm not usually a fan of the fantasy genre but these books are excellent.


I'm just finishing Wise Man's Fear this morning. I liked parts of it very much, at least as much as Name of the Wind. Other parts seem aimless. There are huge digressions into settings where what happens there has nothing to do with what came before, and has no lasting impact after. One long section (maybe 100 pages) reads like a too-long adolescent sexual fantasy.

This lowers my opinion of Rothfuss as a craftsman quite a bit. It's unfortunate when a writer becomes so successful that their editors let them get away with anything they want, and their books get published with long dead spots or pointless digressions that a writer with less clout never would've gotten past the editor. This reminds me of a problem Stephen King and Anne Rice both suffer from at times.

Oh, and Denna may be the most annoying character in all of fiction. ;)

Having said all that, I don't regret having read it, and I'm sure I'll read the 3rd book. It's a good, ambitious tale, if a bit sloppy and loose in places. I definitely want to know what happens with Kvothe. Many of my friends respect these books quite a bit. I think followers of the fantasy genre are more interested in "the tale" and less about tight storytelling. It's possible some of the things I consider flaws here will not bother others as much.
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

Dave Michuda

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #109 on: January 21, 2014, 07:05:33 PM »
Mike,

Your critique is spot on.  I'm thinking the same way, I'll read the third book because I want to see how it turns out for Kvothe.

mgriffin

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #110 on: January 21, 2014, 08:05:55 PM »
It's very hard to imagine how the Kingkiller Chronicles get wrapped up in just one more book. All the stuff Kvothe boasted to Chronicler he would tell about from the beginning, so much of it hasn't happened yet.

I understand Rothfuss intends to write more stories in the same world after this trilogy, presumably with different characters.
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

chris23

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #111 on: January 22, 2014, 05:45:04 PM »
Finished a few things recently:

Veronica Roth - Divergent (Vol 1) and Insurgent (Vol 2)
This series is concerned with a society in the near future that is organized with respect to people's core character traits--whether they value bravery, truth, compassion, etc. There is a conflict among the factions, however, and the way the conflict plays out drives the meta-story.  I'm a bit embarrassed to say I read the first two books of this series since they are billed as teen lit and, God knows, I haven't been a teenager in several decades. I saw a preview for the upcoming Divergent film, however, and thought it looked interesting and decided to give the books a shot. The basic ideas motivating the book work well as a sound bite, but things seem oversimplified, there is too much kissing, etc.

H. P. Lovecraft - At the Mountains of Madness
Excellent tale of an expedition to Antarctica in which the explorers uncover unspeakable horrors.  ;) This was wonderful; I hadn't read this before and it is now one of my favorites.

Dave Michuda

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #112 on: February 12, 2014, 08:25:10 PM »


Just finished "Sand" by Hugh Howley.  Similarly to how he released "Wool", "Sand" was published as a serial with all the books being collected in the omnibus edition. 

Howley is very good at creating unique worlds and in this tale old world America has been buried under shifting dunes of sand.  We never find out why the world is the way it is but that doesn't matter.  I got totally sucked in by this at once familiar and alien world. 

Some of the characters are "sand divers," they somehow literally dive deep into the sand to forage for relics from the old world.  Special suits allow them to move through the sand almost like divers in water.  The tech is never explained but, again, it didn't matter.  I totally bought every part of this story.  Highly recommended, as is his Wool Omnibus.

mgriffin

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #113 on: February 13, 2014, 09:37:47 AM »
H. P. Lovecraft - At the Mountains of Madness
Excellent tale of an expedition to Antarctica in which the explorers uncover unspeakable horrors.  ;) This was wonderful; I hadn't read this before and it is now one of my favorites.


This is a classic, and a lot of fun. It's the one Lovecraft I re-read most often.

I still hope Del Toro ends up making a film version.
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

mgriffin

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #114 on: February 13, 2014, 09:39:08 AM »
Just finished "Sand" by Hugh Howley.  Similarly to how he released "Wool", "Sand" was published as a serial with all the books being collected in the omnibus edition. 
...
 Highly recommended, as is his Wool Omnibus.


Thanks for this, Dave. I've heard good things about Wool, and though Howley is a polarizing figure in the publishing world at times, I've heard Wool is a good read. Sand sounds even more interesting to me, based on your review.
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

thirdsystem

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #115 on: February 14, 2014, 01:24:24 PM »
Just finished "Sand" by Hugh Howley.  Similarly to how he released "Wool", "Sand" was published as a serial with all the books being collected in the omnibus edition. 
...
 Highly recommended, as is his Wool Omnibus.


Thanks for this, Dave. I've heard good things about Wool, and though Howley is a polarizing figure in the publishing world at times, I've heard Wool is a good read. Sand sounds even more interesting to me, based on your review.

Read the first two Wool and Shift, excellent writing and story. The third one Dust is about to be released in paperback here so can't wait to read how this all ends !!!

That "Sand" sounds great, will check that out also, cheers.

chris23

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #116 on: February 19, 2014, 07:27:35 PM »
Sand looks really interesting. I'll have to check that out.

Just re-read Ready Player One. Couldn't help myself.

Dave Michuda

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #117 on: April 20, 2014, 02:03:31 PM »
The Plague Forge: The Dire Earth Cycle: Three by Jason M. Hough

I'm just finishing the third book in this series.  What started out as a promising story has come to a grinding halt, buried under repetitive scenes in an effort to make a trilogy out of a single book.  There are only so many battle scenes I can handle over the course of 450 pages before I just start skipping some all together.  There are some interesting characters & ideas in this series but it should have been one book not three.

This has become a common problem with a lot of science fiction - can't anybody just write a stand alone book anymore?  What's the point of having an editor if every idea balloons into an unwieldy monster?  I know money is the reason for this behavior but, c'mon man!  Knock it off!

Well, I guess I'll go back & try to finish this book.  I can see the finish line, but my legs are dead and my will is gone.

chris23

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #118 on: April 21, 2014, 06:53:57 PM »
Re-read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. That took forever. But worth it. I love that book, despite not resonating with her philosophy fully.

Ransom Riggs - Hollow City
A follow up to Miss Perregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which I liked a lot. Hollow City wasn't that great. Not much of a story and all the character development points and quirks got spent in the first novel.

Gabrielle Zevin - The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
This was excellent. A.J. Fikry owns a bookstore on Alice Island--a small island resort that essentially thrives on summer visitors. Three important things happen early in the novel: A.J. is awfully rude to a book representative, his ultra-rare copy fo E.A. Poe's first book is stolen, and a woman abandons her baby in his book store with a note that says that she wants the girl to grow up among books and people who love books. The way in which the implications of these three events are woven together is excellent. Plus, each chapter opens with A.J.'s brief review of of classic and popular books, which start in a normal fashion, but, as the novel progresses, become notes to his daughter. Super cool story.

Just picked up Sand. Looking forward to starting it.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 06:57:22 PM by chris23 »

Seren

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Re: Now Reading, pt 2
« Reply #119 on: April 22, 2014, 04:52:10 AM »
The Black Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop.

Rereading this  - demons with ethics and humans without.......interesting switch.